🔒 Detroit’s Tom Ryan recalls ‘Count Scary’ specials, explains how it all started

Count Scary.
Count Scary. (WDIV)

Editor’s note: If you grew up in the Detroit area in the 1980s, you probably remember “Count Scary,” a character played by Detroit radio personality Tom Ryan, who appeared on WDIV from 1982 to the early 1990s as a vampire who loved B horror films.

His famous catch phrase was “Ooooh, that’s scaary!” Count Scary would rank the scary level of each movie with a scale of pants, referring to scaring your pants off.

It all started when I was a child -- well, actually Tom DeLisle was also a child -- we were very ‘childish’ when the Count was born.

WDIV had acquired the rights to a 3D movie (“Gorilla At Large” UGH) and asked Tom, who was a producer at WDIV, to come up with an idea as how to show it. WDIV was partnering with Wendy’s to sponsor the show as people could go to Wendy’s to get the 3D glasses.

Tom and I had been friends for many years working with Dick Purtan and later with me at CKLW radio and then WOMC radio.

Tom Ryan and Tom DeLisle. (WDIV)

We were huge fans of the Canadian comedy show “SCTV” which starred, among others, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short and Joe Flaherty.

One of the recurring bits on the show was a character played by Flaherty called “Count Floyd.” This Vampire would attempt to show a “really scary movie” but something always happened to the film.

We, “The Two Toms," loved the character, and Tom D suggested we do a spoof on Count Floyd with a bungling vampire, and I said let’s call him “Count Scary.” Wallah, the Count was born.

At one point I received a call from “SCTV" asking for a copy of one of our shows. I asked if they were going to sue us and they said, “No, we looked into it but..no.” It was then, I said, “Well you know what they always say, ”Imitation is the sincerest form of Flaherty.”

It was so much fun doing the “Count Scary” shows. Tom was a great writer, even though he let me ad lib a lot of stuff, and his creativeness was terrific. I will tell you about a really scary thing we did on the show.

The scene called for the Count and a young lady who wanted to do the “Scary Dance.” So through the magic of special effects, we flew up to the top of the Renaissance Center.

That’s where the special effects ended.

We were actually on top of the Renaissance Center. Seventy three floors above Detroit, which seemed like two and a half miles, Oh that was scary!

We danced as a helicopter flew along side the building, came up the top, and filmed the whole thing. I think we only did two takes. I was happy when that was over. The rest of that show was filmed at ground level or in the studio.

I have great memories of being Count Scary and scarring peoples pants off!

Enjoy some old Count Scary broadcasts below: